The Bible in Matthew 25:14-30 records the Parable of the Talents as told by Jesus, in which there was a wealthy master on embarking on a long journey decided to leave his possessions to be manged by three of his servants. The decision to divide the possessions was based on each of the servants proven ability to profitably manage resources. To the first he entrusted five talents, to the second two talents, and to the third one talent. The first two servants diligent in their pursuit and work were profitable in the management of the master’s resources. Whereas, the third servant filled with fear and lackadaisical in attitude, buried that which he was entrusted with. When the master returned, the first two eagerly met their master, apparently delighted in the opportunity to multiply their master’s money. Both were commended as “good and faithful servants” and consequently rewarded with increased responsibilities, and the third who had nothing to show but excuses was cast away.
As we read through this parable with open hearts there are principles of success that will work for us if we work them. The story also reveals areas of human thinking and behavior that limits one’s ability to grow and fulfill purpose. Below are five things I saw as I studied the Parable of the Talents.
1. Each received talent according to his ability
This highlights the fact that in our journey through life we are at different starting points. But this should never be a deterrent in our progress towards success because no matter where you may be currently, you can always make progress. Your focus should never be on where you are but on where you intend to to be, because as you develop yourself in your ability to handle and manage your resources effectively, opportunities commensurate with your ability will come your way.
2. There is no true success without diligent work
Humans by default seek to take the path of least resistance. We are constantly looking for “the easy way”. I’ve learned over time that what is worth anything is worth laboring for. Many people have lost fortunes chasing “get rich quick” schemes, and pursuing methods that promise shortcuts to success. Success follows a disciplined trail of diligent work, uphill battles, and numerous learning opportunities that present as failures. Notice in the parable, it was not the talents that multiplied themselves, but it was the efforts put in by the stewards that multiplied the talents. The stewards had to do something with the talents, and believe me it was not easy because it took a long time to turn a 100% profit. Whereas, the steward who did the easy thing ended up in a bad place. In whatever you do, consistently apply yourself towards growth and development of your resources. It is the little effort that we make consistently and progressively over time that compound into something great.
3. Those that are able to get, keep getting more
Have you ever wondered why achievers continue to achieve? People who have learned methods and systems of increase are able to continue to work these systems and methods to continue increasing. Even if there happens to be some misfortune, they are able to recuperate and regain what has been lost. This stems from an abundance mentality. For you to succeed, deep within your core must be a running consciousness of success, and a “can-do” attitude. Self defeating thought and speech patterns must be done away with. Learn to see yourself as a multiplier of resources. Think success, speak success, and act like it is impossible to fail. Even when you are faced with setback, take responsibility and deal with it. But never let your experience define who you are at the core of your being. In the Parable, we see that the first two stewards were eager to turn a profit from what was entrusted to them. This was a reflection of their inner state of mind. The third servant, by his speech we are able to tell his state of mind. It was that of fear, excuses, and limitation. Continue to believe that you are able to reach beyond your current position and you can break your own records.
4. It’s not the size of the opportunity, but it’s what you do with it (and the Talent Myth)
Sincerely, talent can be overrated. If an individual leaned on talent alone to attain to success, such a person will fail. However, a person who remains faithfully committed to the growth and development process will eventually outpace the one who had the advantage of innate talent. The steward with five talents was able to turn a 100% profit, likewise the steward with two talents. The number of talents didn’t matter, all three stewards had an equal opportunity to generate the same return. The steward with one talent was not able to turn a profit, even though he may not have been “innately talented”, he could have put in some effort that would have produced some type of return. As you evaluate your resources and the opportunities available to you, focus on growth and development. Be obsessed with increase, and have a progressive attitude. Seek to make the best of every opportunity that comes your way, be it on the job, at home, in community service etc. Be prepared always, and treat every opportunity as though it were your defining moment.
5. Fear cripples and blind’s one’s ability to see opportunity
“Playing it safe” is not what makes us successful. Many people live in fear, under the guise that they are being careful. Break the backbone of fear in your life by daring the impossible. Fear causes you to bury what you have in a hole. Faith on the other hand is eager to take on opportunities. Stepping out in purpose generally appears to be a risk, but the reward of success in one’s calling far outweighs the perceived risk. Theodore Roosevelt put it beautifully when he said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
When we put our current resources to consistent and diligent work over time, it will increase and cause us to get more. We must recognize that opportunity will always present itself, but it is through faith and the confidence that comes with diligent preparation that we are able to make the best of it. Remember, each steward was entrusted with talent “according to his ability”. In essence, they had proven themselves in times past. So when opportunity presented itself, they were not crippled by fear. They had the confidence to venture and anticipate even more.